Orphaned Memories

Dongyan Chen, Ivetta Sunyoung Kang, Elena Amabili

15.06.2019   - 22.06.2019

Group exhibition presented as part of the official program of the 48 Stunden Neukölln Festival.
15 – 22 June 2019, 2-7pm
Opening: Friday, June 14th 2019, 6-9pm

It is impossible to retain a past thought, to seize a future thought, and even to hold onto a present thought.

The Diamond Sutra


The group exhibition Orphaned Memories explores the interplay between object, place, memory, imagination and time in light of the “Future III” theme of the 2019 48h NK Festival. It is examined in the work of Ivetta Sunyoung Kang, (Canada/South Korea, installation), Dongyan Chen, (UK/Singapore, installation) and Elena Amabili, (Italy/Germany, photography), who regard it through the lens of psycho-geography, materiality, ideology and psychology.

In the presented works, the historic, contemporary and futuristic often converge in surprising and enlightening ways. Next to cultural-historical processes, psychological standpoints on our own image and being may be subject to similar re-interpretations at various points in time.

Reframing cultural and personal memory is an ongoing process. Memory lies in archival material or obsolete media, open to salvaging or reinterpretation. Memory lives in the body and the mind too. Being reconstructed continuously, it is known to play uncanny tricks, as it often converges with fantasy. Surrealism, mysticism and psychoanalysis explore ways to retrieve lost impulses and reinterpret them.

Memory also lives on as material, in discarded media that can be reclaimed, brought to life and reinterpreted by artistic means by reframing still highly-charged psycho-geographic relics that speak of forgotten ideals and ideologies.

Orphaned Memories occupies itself with such memories, and fragments of utopian designs and expectancies for the future that have lost their origin but are still alive in one way or another. It shows highly imaginative ways of retrieving, questioning and responding to them.

Both past and future share an imaginative mental space in which self-experience becomes constituted by a mix of memory, imagination, and our expectancies of the future. Within this speculative space, how we view ourselves today may be dramatically changed by processes of introspection, reinterpretation and catharsis. Nothing is truly fixed. What we may have lost could still be found.

Participating Artists:

Ivetta Sunyoung Kang

Installation View of Ivetta Kang's work SomoS 2019
Installation View, SomoS 2019

Ivetta Sunyoung Kang is a Montreal-based South Korean multidisciplinary artist working across film, video, video installation, performance and expanded cinema. Interested in cinema as a durational art form, and specifically moments where the invisible transitions to the visible, Kang finds meaning in the imprinted ‘dead memories’ of found footage. She rejuvenates these cultural relics while subverting their initial commercial purpose and normative or ideological content. In Counterpoint, a cooperation with Sound-artist Eric You developed during her artist residency at SomoS, 35mm motion picture film is used as sculptural material for an installation. In this way, Kang questions whether this analog material could be reincarnated, and whether it suggests in itself a fear of future technological iterations. Also developed at SomoS, Kang’s installation Intolerance of Uncertainty likewise puts forward a notion of anxiety, this time by inviting viewers to participate in The Ball Measure. During this experimental anxiety assessment, emotions are revealed as liminal, since the upper and lower parts of the ball cannot be distinguished as it is rolled in the participant’s hand.

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Dongyan Chen

Video collage still.
Dongyan Chen – J’s Dream Universe, video/installation, 2018

In the installation J’s Dream Universe, multi-disciplinary artist Dongyan Chen explores the making and reconstructing of memories and dreams through sound, installation, photography, video, painting and drawing, in the pursuit of constructing art experiences that engage audiences deeply.

A SomoS Artist-in Residence, Chen is interested in the way texts, images and sounds can work together in montages as a process of remaking and reconstructing memories, comparing this to processes such as dreaming or psycho-analysis. Dongyan Chen aims to create an experience “that can lead the audience into a dream-like world, provoking self-revelation among them.”
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Elena Amabili

Brightly-colored special edition Polaroid of Soviet architectural detail by Elena Amabili.
Elena Amabili – Slavaroid – Instant East, 2017, special edition Polaroid

Elena Amabili’s ongoing photographic series focus on political geography, Socialist architecture, Béton brut and urban exploration. Her psycho-geographic project Slavaroid – Instant East catalogs lost, forgotten and derelict spaces in the countries of the former Eastern Bloc. Blurry, imperfect, but in their brightly colored appearance uncannily futuristic looking rather than nostalgic, these analog instant photos fixate traces of a world that no longer exists but still exerts influence. From Armenia to Dresden, from Moscow to Latvia, from Kazakhstan to Moldova, these relics are here to stay and suggest that any (perfect) future is only ever possible with solid memory and an understanding of the past.
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Ivetta Sunyoung Kang’s work was supported by the Arts Counsel Korea. Eric Dong Ho You’s collaboration was supported by the Canada Council for the Arts.

Arts Council Korea Canada Council for the Arts

Photos courtesy Cheryl Chan